What does it say?
Previously (Gen 14) Abram rescued Lot; this time two angels warn Lot to flee before judgment falls. The story graphically reveals the debauchery that provoked God’s wrath. Perhaps most telling is how difficult it is for Lot to leave this dark place. In the aftermath of judgment God remembers Abraham, continuing to deal with the consequences of sin in Sodom and Lot’s family.
After God’s initial commission to Abram (12:1-3), he jeopardized Sarah by his flight of fear to Egypt. Here (20), right before the promised son’s birth, another lapse of faith endangers his wife. The Philistine chieftain Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem before God intervenes, bringing healing through Abraham.
Sarah finally gives birth to Isaac (laughter)(21) after many years of waiting. No one has to wait for the consequences of past sin; however, Abraham expels Hagar and Ishmael from his household. Despite Sarah’s bitterness, God promises to bless Ishmael, too. Abimelech appeals to God’s blessing upon Abraham as basis for desiring a covenant relationship with him.
What does it mean?
Lot’s carnality, Abraham’s lapse of faith and the eventual birth of Isaac offer many practical and prophetic lessons. Do not, however, lose sight of the ongoing missional story.
The relationship between Abraham and the nations that began in 12:1-3 continues to be the thrust. God remembers Abraham and saves Lot from destruction. Despite his lapse of faith among the Philistines, Abraham prays and brings healing to them. God uses Abraham even in the conflict between Sarah and Hagar, promising to make Ishmael a great nation. The Philistines again see Abraham as key in their search for peace and blessing.
A strong pattern is emerging. God uses Abraham among the nations not because he is flawless, but because God has a plan, and Abraham will be a part of it no matter what.
How will I respond?
How could God work through my imperfections to advance his kingdom among the nations? One of the most effective transcultural workers I’ve ever known discovered God’s plan for his life when his sister, in a lapse of faith, married a Muslim.
God planted Abraham among the nations as a witness of God’s majesty. God will lead certain, specially gifted individuals to make his truth known among other people in other cultures. No matter where we are, God has planted us all as ambassadors to bless the people that are our neighbors and co-workers. Will you take a step beyond your own ethnic background today to get to know someone better from another background?